Remembering Robert Niss

Remembering Robert Niss

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With the arrival of 62nd group of Maine Coast Semester students this week, “all hands” have been busy with cleaning and organizing. Greg Shute, our senior vice president, uncovered a few dusty gems in the back of the library that are worth sharing, in particular, a copy of Faces of Maine, by Chewonki alumn Bob Niss. Greg tells us more:

“I happened to be looking through some books in the library and came across Faces of Maine, published in 1981, which has a piece about Clarence Allen. The author, Bob Niss [Boys Camp ‘58-’63, Boys Camp staff ‘65], got his start writing for the Camp Chewonki Chronicle while a camper in the late 1950s and went on to write for the Maine Sunday Telegram.  

“I ran into Bob several times in Baxter State Park in the mid-1980s, and each time he told me that Chewonki inspired his love of the outdoors and particularly Baxter State Park. Bob passed away in 2005 at the age of 56 from a chronic illness.

“The photo that accompanies the essay is interesting because it shows a Gulch Crossing [for many years, one of Chewonki’s most popular outdoor challenges] taking place on the end of the Neck between Osprey Point and Ideal Point. This location was only used a few times in the late 1970s early 1980s. By 1984, this location was dropped because of the long span that needed to be crossed, in favor of the famous Gulch between Osprey Point and the Point.”

Niss’s obituary in the Portland Press Herald noted that he was born in Belfast, Maine, grew up in Bath, attended Proctor Academy in New Hampshire, and graduated from Colorado College in 1971 with a journalism degree. “He came from a long line of writers and historians, among them…Samuel Eliot Morison and Jacob Abbott, and had been putting pen to paper since the age of 8 for his summer camp’s weekly newspaper,” the obituary reads.

A few choice excerpts from Face of Maine

Of note: Clarence Allen established his camp for boys on Lake Champlain in 1915 and moved it to Chewonki Neck in Wiscasset in 1918.